Page last updated at 16:20 GMT, Thursday, 30 June 2011 17:20 UK

Female genital mutilation debate

Baroness Rendell of Babergh has called for an increase in awareness of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the UK - in a hope to put an end to the practice.

She told peers during a debate on the subject on 30 June 2011 that despite being illegal FMG remains a problem in Britain.

Lady Rendell, who helped introduce a 2004 law that made it an offence to send a child abroad for the procedure, explained that FMG is an African practice, common to many countries on that continent.

She said secrecy surrounding genital mutilation made it difficult to bring prosecutions.

She added: "Girls who can be here in North London talking to their friends about being 'cut' as initiation into a kind of community membership will say that FGM was performed on them as babies, or before they came to the United Kingdom."

She continued: "It is not for want of trying my Lords that the police have so far been able to bring no prosecution either against practitioners carrying out FGM here or those taking abroad for mutilation to be performed in a country less aware of its dangers."

Baroness Rendell concluded: "Does the minister agree that encouraging teachers to be aware of what is a very real danger to young girls can be of help to police in bringing perhaps the single prosecution, which would be such a major deterrent and factor in putting an end to this practice in the United Kingdom."

Responding to her remars, Baroness Verma, the government's spokesman on equalities and women's issues, said: "I hope that [the debate] is noted and goes some way to ensuring that this important issues remains on the agenda in order that girls and women are protected and this unacceptable form of abuse is eliminated for good."

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